Packing the Red Oxx

Photo Credit: Jeff Kernohan. One of the Red Oxx group buy bags with travel team logo. Red Oxx is more than happy to work with enthusiast and corporate groups to create personalized/branded embroidered bags.

I Don't Believe it Either!
A luggage review? Really!? Well, I do travel fairly often, and because I'm a personal audio and photo geek I do have to carry way too many gadgets and wall-warts. Having to get in and out of the aluminum sky tube hundreds of times has taught me what works and what doesn't, and developing a carry bag production line at HeadRoom clued me into some of the details of quality fabric manufacture. Good bags are part and parcel of a portable lifestyle, and a thoughtful quiver of bags will make the traveling geek's life much smoother, but the truth is that I would never have done a luggage review were it not for an unusual set of circumstances.

I frequent a little headphone forum where talk is as much of scotch, cigars, and exotic micro-brews, as it is about headphone gear. Luggage, in the form of briefcases, carry-on bags, and a purse that a man might carry, is a favorite topic. Someone there came up with the silly notion of having a travel team and executing a group buy of travel luggage complete with team logos. After much keyboard thumb wrestling, Red Oxx emerged the winning supplier. The company was very accommodating, allowing the team athletes (Ha!) to individually select from a variety of different models and colors, and had the needed embroidery skills and machinery to effect our collective and diverse desires. To be truthful I didn't really need the luggage, but after I learned Red Oxx is a Montana company located 140 miles to the east of me in Billings, I simply couldn't resist and opted into the group buy. Unfortunately, life changed and I had to opt back out before the buy went through. And that was that for Red Oxx and me...or so I thought.

My good friend, Paul, and I rent an old brick garage in downtown Bozeman behind the Cat-Eye Cafe, where we keep our motorcycles and wrench on bikes at a pace of extraordinary leisure. Our man-cave has many stellar attributes, but it's most important characteristic is it's approximately one-and-a-half blocks west of our favorite watering hole/pool table, The Crystal Bar. One day not too long ago, Paul and I had finished our round of pool and had settled onto stools at the bar when our friend Howard came in. Howard and I had shared the same camp at Burning Man a few years ago, and he used to have a weekly radio show on the local collage station until he moved to Billings a couple of years ago. He still does the show once a month, so we bump into each other every now and again.

RedOxx_Luggage_Photo_On Bike"Hiya Tyll."

"Hiya Howard! So, I don't think I've asked you, what the heck are you doing in Billings these days?"

"Oh, I got a gig as a marketing manager."

"Sweet, what company?"

"Oh, you won't have heard of it. We make safari luggage. It's called Red Oxx."

I about spit out a mouthful of Bozeman Brewing Company's "Hopzone" IPA! I couldn't believe my ears. For the next half hour or so we stitched together the synchrony of the group buy, the travel team, and the general silliness of life's coincidences. He'd also not heard of my job change to product reviewer last year, and when I mentioned I'd be leaving soon on a trip to New York, he suggested I take a springtime ride on my Yamaha FJR to Billings to pick up some bags to review on my journey to the Big Apple.

Well dear reader, maybe you could resist the opportunity to burn through 280 miles of Pirelli rubber and 9 gallons of gas to pick up some bullet proof bags to play with, but I sure as hell couldn't. And that's exactly how I ended up taking a long hard look at a sweet suite of rugged travel bags from Red Oxx.

Let's take a look at the bags...

Red Oxx
310 North 13th St.
Billings, Montana USA 59101

Giteau's picture

Nice to have something different for a change Tyll.

n_maher's picture

Nice review, Tyll. I've had my Mini Ruck for a year and a half or so now and it ranks as one of the best purchases I've made. I use it for carrying stuff back and forth to work and it is the perfect daypack. Good sized pockets, very comfortable, ridiculously overbuilt.

I also use their Rigger wallet and the Nomad shave kit and have no complaints about any of it.

Great kit, great company.

RudeWolf's picture

Where are the measurement datasheets??

I must know how well these isolate.

timivie's picture

I regret I don't travel by air these days, nonetheless this looks like cool stuff.

Please let RedOxx know m/c gear for dual sport riders to carry there audio electronic gear might be something to look into.

AGB's picture

It's in the design. The military set standards for 1000 denier nylon, monkey fist tabs and zippers. Many makes now use these standards with variations of course.

Maxpedition is the prominent company that makes high grade military standard-meeting bags.

Worth it to look through their catalogue.

I would still support a Montana-based US made company first, the one mentioned by Tyll.

Maxpedition too, is made with ultraquality, not much to criticize there.

6sigma's picture

Which Red Oxx bag is shown in the first photo (the group-buy bag)?

Would you be willing to tell us which headphone forum you were mentioning that sometimes talks about bags, etc.?

Thanks for an excellent review.

Currawong's picture

I jumped on the group buy and definitely didn't regret it. I use the Gator (the first bag pictured in the article). While a bit small ideally (the larger briefcase would have been better for me ultimately) it swallows up an 11" MacBook Air, Nikon D7000 and a bunch of other gear. 

The bags are definitely just about indestructable in design. The shoulder strap, while incredibly grippy, can be a nuisance if left flopping around, as it catches and grips shoes and chairs.

Here are the Gator and AirBoss when I was heading to Tokyo for the headphone festival.


Tyll Hertsens's picture

.....d-_-b  Rock on Amos!

Skipperjay's picture

I have done considerable travelling through the years and have found that one of the main things that can spoil a trip is having to lug around heavy bags. In fact, I sold my SLR and compliment of lenses a year ago and now only use a relatively light fine P&S camera. My wife and I bought two small compact roller bag to complete our carry-on luggage gear and being able to roll our bags from one destination to another makes a world of difference. The smaller bag can piggyback on larger carry-on bag when needed.

While the I like the many fine qualities of the Red Oxx bags I could not see running around busy airports or navigating my way around a strange city while having to carry tavel bags. I have found that even small shoulder carry bags can feel heavy and uncomfortable if I have to carry them very long.

Currawong's picture

In the end, for me, both those bags loaded was a bit much for me too, but mainly because of the SLR and that trip I took my 17" MacBook Pro. I reckon if I spend a few months working out a bit it wont feel anywhere near as bad, but regardless, I have a 11" MacBook Air and will get a couple of prime lenses for this kind of thing now instead of one huge zoom.